Bemodern, otherwise known as Paul Darragh, grew up in a tiny farming community in New Zealand before moving to Melbourne, Australia, where he lived for the next four years. It was there that he first caught our attention and, not long after that, decided to chase his dreams to New York City to open Manhattan Born. If the name of his new design agency is anything to go by, it would appear this most recent home has had a great impact on Darragh.
“Manhattan Born is a creative place—a studio, agency and production facility,” says Darragh of the agency he started with Casey Steele. “I’d like to think we do it all. Design is such a crossover between mediums now. I feel like if it is something that can be designed, we’ll do it. So far our work has been in print, television, video, branding and interactive. We just launched a collection of T-shirts and an art show with paintings, screen prints, collage and animation.” Across their various branding projects the unique pace and energy of NYC seems to guide the fusion of sharp design and technology that characterizes their work.
The show Darragh mentions christened their brand-new Manhattan Born studio and storefront in the East Village. “We want to be more of a brand than just a studio that caters to people’s brands,” says Darragh. “We want to be a tangible part of your life, rather than just some videos online. The intention of the new shop space is to have a presence as a community creative spot. We are accessible, so people can see what we’re doing, walk past and see the art through the window. The other part of the new space is a gallery. We will have monthly shows. It’s a platform for artists and designers to show their work in a new context.”
Settling in to their new neighborhood, Darragh and Steele chose to launch with a show entitled “East Village, I Heart You”. “I’ve always loved living in the East Village and I’m definitely inspired by it,” says Darragh. “So, now we moved the studio here I wanted the first show to be in part an homage to the neighborhood—almost like ‘Thanks for having us’ and in another way, to set the tone for who we are as a studio, as a brand and as a physical space. The show speaks to the texture of the East Village. In part it’s dilapidated, cracked and dirty. It has patina, it has attitude, and it’s always colorful and exciting.”
“We’re not Chelsea fine art or SoHo pop art. We’re a sub-cultural showcase, still featuring quality, individual and unique art in all different mediums,” says Darragh. “The space is also going to grow by itself. I think the building has control over its own destiny, and it will become something I probably haven’t thought of yet—that’s the most exciting part!”
336 E 5th St.
New York, NY, 10003